dailyclassicalmusic.com, March 23, 2011
Recital, Los Angeles, 11 March 2011
An Exciting Evening - Jonas Kaufmann's Los Angeles recital
On Friday evening 11 March 2011, Los Angeles Opera presented the tall and slim German tenor, Jonas Kaufmann, in a lieder recital at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. Kaufmann has a dark rather baritonal tenor sound with an amazing trumpet-like top that can provide dramatic emphasis. Surprisingly, he has an equal ability to produce silken high notes as needed. It is a distinctive voice and one that the people who hear this artist in a live performance are not likely to forget. In addition to a fascinating sound and a fine, reliable technique, he has excellent German diction and the interpretive ability to communicate the message of each song to his listeners. If you believe great lieder singers no longer tread our stages, think again! The Los Angeles public had listened to this oft-recorded singer and filled most of the hall, knowing that this would be a most important recital.

Accompanied by the gifted veteran pianist, Helmut Deutsch, Kaufmann sang four selections from the Schumann Opus 35 Kerner-Liedern, set to poetry by Justius Kerner, and the sixteen songs of that form the composer's Opus 48 Dichterliebe ('A Poet's Love') before the intermission. With a voice that has the ability to express tumultuous joy as well as sorrow and pain, the singer painted sound pictures of blossoming spring, the hopes of new lovers and the despair of love forever lost. A supremely intelligent artist, he shed new light on these well-known songs.

The second half of the program was devoted to songs by Richard Strauss. They included his Opus 21 songs, Schlichte Weisen ('Simple Melodies') composed to words by Felix Dahn. These pieces are not intrinsically related to each other but allow the artist to tell a new story with each. In Sehnsucht ('Yearning') and Ich liebe dich ('I Love You'), which have texts by Detlev von Liliencron, he showed his ability to make us weep with him, but he revived our spirits with John Henry Mackay's lyrics for Heimliche Aufforderung ('Secret Invitation') and Morgen ('Tomorrow'). With Nachtgang ('A Walk by Night') and Freundliche Vision ('Friendly Vision'), written to poems by Otto Julius Bierbaum, we remembered beloved trysts. He brought to life Ruhe, meine Seele ('Rest, my Soul') by Karl Friedrich Henckell and the final song, Cäcilie, by Heinrich Hart, and let us appreciate the depth of their meanings.

As with all really great recitals, that was only the printed program. Lieder aficionados know that the most exciting moments of a recital are the encores. The crowd in Los Angeles was extremely demonstrative, calling out for certain pieces and even snapping phone pictures. Thus, Kaufmann and Deutsch were called back for five additional pieces. The encores were Richard Strauss' Breit über mein Haupt dein schwarzes Haar ('Spread Over my Head Your Black Hair'), Op 19 No 2, and Nichts ('Nothing'), Op 10 No 2, followed by Franz Lehar's Dein ist mein ganzes Herz ('Yours is my Heart Alone'), from The Land of Smiles. Because the voluminous applause did not stop, these were followed by Strauss' Zueignung ('Dedication'), Op 10 No 1, and Robert Schumann's Mondnacht ('Moonlit Night'), Op 39 No 5. Deutsch played the latter from an iPad! This was an exciting evening and you can be sure that Los Angeles hopes to have Jonas Kaufmann back in the near future.

Copyright © 23 March 2011 Maria Nockin, Arizona USA

Photos © 2011 Robert Millard.


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